3-D Printing Breakthroughs, 3D Systems Corporation (DDD), and Earnings

3D Systems Corporation (DDD) will report earnings tomorrow morning, and the options market is pricing in a huge subsequent move

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Aug 5, 2015 at 11:32 AM

3-D printing breakthroughs seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but that doesn't make them any less remarkable. Just yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Spritam -- the first 3-D printed drug, designed to treat epilepsy. And next month, MX3D will open up a visitor center so people can watch its 3-D printing robots build a steel bridge in Amsterdam.

That brings us to 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD), one of the leading 3-D printers in the U.S. While the company can't claim any recent jaw-dropping developments, it does have an important event on the near horizon -- specifically, tomorrow morning's earnings report.

Expectations are high that DDD will make a big move in the immediate aftermath of the event. Specifically, based on the stock's short-term at-the-money straddle, the options market is pricing in a single-day swing of 12.4%. Over the past eight quarters, however, DDD has averaged a one-day post-earnings move of just 5.1%. As such, it's safe to assume the stock's short-term options are relatively pricey right now -- a conclusion supported by the equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI), which stands at an annual high of 91%.

On the charts, DDD has struggled mightily, down nearly 64% year-to-date -- and, at $11.90, is lingering near yesterday's three-year low of $11.71. From a relative-strength perspective, the stock has underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by almost 47 percentage points over the last two months.

Nevertheless, traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have been buying to open calls over puts at a rapid rate in recent months. DDD's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 3.22 ranks in the 98th percentile of its annual range. An unwinding of the hedges related to these bullish bets could apply additional pressure.

That said, it's important to keep in mind that over one-third of 3D Systems Corporation's (NYSE:DDD) float is sold short -- equivalent to more than two weeks of trading, at typical volumes. In other words, it's possible some of the long calls were initiated by short sellers as protection against an unforeseen bounce.

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